We here at the editorial board of Hail Pelicus would like to wish everyone a Happy (insert holiday here – or not). Ever since humans first started to look around and think “what’s is all about, really?” there have been midwinter festivals to hasten the end of the darkness that is taking over the world and bring the sun back. Surprisingly enough, it worked every time. Apparently those old druids and shamans knew a thing or two about Ancient Rites From The Dawn Of Time. These traditions have continued throughout history and have now evolved into all of our modern late December holidays.
With the rugby season preliminaries winding to a close teams are polishing up their set pieces and looking forward to a season of rugby come the new year. 2016 promises to be an exciting and fun filled year as divisions have been shuffled and a new men’s club 4th division has emerged. Supersites will be in their second year with lessons learned and more ambitious plans. The Northern California Pelicans Mens and Womens teams will be in their second year of revival and have a slate of matches lined up. It is a good time in Pelicanland.
For those of you looking for a holiday gift for the rugger in your life we here at Hail Pelicus are proud to announce that the last 2 years of newsletters have been bound together for publication as “Hailing Pelicus” a coffee table book just in time for Christmas. Relive all the warmth, humor and introspection of the introductory comments while recalling past matches through the eyes of the referees. Full color photographs and large typeface allow even front row forwards to enjoy this gift. All proceeds, minus a discreet editorial fee, will go to Pelican Charities, a non-profit supporting good works in the community.
How do I get this gift, I hear you ask? Simple! To order a copy approach a referee before a match and give him or her $60, plus $20 handling fee plus $20 for shipping. For best results donations should be in cash and be done in full view of the opposition to show them your support for Pelican Charities. Who knows? You may even shame them into matching or even bettering your donation. If you don’t have a match before the New Year don’t worry as we will continue to accept orders while supplies last. That means you can continue to order copies at all of your matches throughout 2016 and beyond. Do it for the kiddies.
Pelicus Scriptoris speaks
The Rugby Republic http://www.therugbyrepublic.com/ is a California based rugby news site created and edited by Ahmad Bahrami out of Fresno. He recently interviewed my predecessor Dr Bruce Carter. It is a good read and well worth the time. It can be found here: http://www.therugbyrepublic.com/blog/2015/11/6/thank-you-sira-wrap-on-a-great-career
Eagle 7s Flying High
The World 7s series has started up again and the USA Eagles looked to improve on what has traditionally been a poor start to the 7s season. We were the in-form team at the end of last season with a dominant Cup win at the London 7s followed by Olympic Qualification. The big question was if Mike Friday and his staff could keep the momentum going after several months off? Could he reintroduce players who participated in the World Cup smoothly? Would these players be 7s ready or need more time to switch gears? After 2 legs, Dubai and Cape Town, the answers are yes, yes and no, and maybe. The US is still playing at an elite level getting to the cup quarterfinal in both tournaments while placing 3rd and 5th respectively and maintaining 3rd place in the World Sevens Series standings. After never having beaten them before the US now has a 3 match winning streak against New Zealand. Let me repeat that.
The US has a 3 match winning streak against the New Zealand All Blacks.
There is no finer indication that we have arrived. Yes, the kiwi machine had some injuries but that is what elite teams do: they take the chance given and exploit any weakness. Let’s not kid ourselves – New Zealand will reload for the next tournament and will remain a force and a favorite to win the series and a gold medal, but this may be the final mental hurdle we had to overcome. Core team status? Check. Consistent Cup round appearances? Check. Cup victory? Check. The ability to beat EVERY team on the circuit? Check.
I can’t wait for the Olympics.
Things that make you go “hmmmm?”
Question: Why does world rugby’s World Sevens Series feel the need to put “7s” after every country’s name? USA 7s, England 7s, New Zealand 7s… This is the 7s series – isn’t it obvious?
Ask A Pelican
Yes, it’s time for this week’s installment of “Ask A Pelican”, the widely loved Q and A session with Hail Pelicus. This week’s question comes from Rich Uncle Pennybags of Atlantic City, NJ, who asks:
“Do referees get paid?”
Thank you for your question, Mr Pennybags and the short answer is yes, referees do in fact get paid. This was a change in policy in the NCRRS enacted a couple of years ago in response to other organizations both locally and around the country paying their referees and it was felt that we would lose the services of younger refs to these paid matches. There was, of course, quite a lot of debate over this issue as many argued that we need to keep up with the times while more traditional referees held out that we should referee for the love of the game and since the players weren’t being paid neither should we.
The most telling argument, although not a decisive one, came from the observation that as Pelicans we were duty bound not to accept money for our services because there is no room in the game for a professional fowl.
David Pescetti and Pete Smith went on our East Midlands Exchange this time around. Below is David’s report.
I arrived into London on an all too typical British afternoon: dreary, muggy, and pleasantly rainy. My first host was the wonderful couple of David and Annie Roberts, who live in Leighton Buzzard (I had to look it up too). Leighton Buzzard is a quaint town 45 miles to the north of London. On the way there we were told that the majority of matches, even the premier matches, were played at the same time. This seems very odd because all the people playing club rugby don’t have the opportunity to watch their favorite teams play on Saturday.
Thursday was spent recovery and adjusting as best I could with an introduction course to their homemade spirits. I have at minimum come away learning a lot about preserves, not of the jelly variety. Friday we went to a local pub and spent the evening what they called “going to a session”. This was a group of people in a pub singing songs, folk and contemporary. I knew a few of the songs, thank you Metallica! They all seemed surprised when a young guy was singing along to an old folk song. Onto the weekend matches!
Saturday I was driven to Northampton where I had Northampton School for Boys vs Leicester Grammar. The day was fresh despite the muggy weather. I was very happy to feel the rain. It was a tale of two halves. The first half was dominated by the fresh Northamptonion boy legs. In typical English fashion it was a forward heavy game and after sucking the defenses in they would spin it out wide. They were able to force a 12 to 0 lead at the half. However the second half was equally if not more physical than the first. Leicester, within the first 10 minutes of the second half, had managed to respond and make it a 12 to 5 game. Unexplainably in the middle of the second half a Leicester prop socked a Northampton boy in the head. He claimed to have been punched first but I did not see any such initial strike upon video review. . It was a shame that he chose to take such action and for it I sent him off. Leicester was apply pressure on Northampton and would have threatened much longer had they been at full strength for the remaining of the match. The match ended with the score Northampton 12 – Leicester 5.
After the match I traveled up to Kittering Rugby Club for a pint and to drop off a Washington DC referee, Mike O’Brian, for his match. We stopped for a pint within their clubhouse and enjoyed atmosphere that is club rugby in the UK. My driver, thanks Jon!, and I stayed to watch a bit of Mike’s game and the other men’s match occurring one pitch over. During our viewing of Mike’s match he also sent a player off for striking. Needless to say the Yanks were seeing red that day! The evening was spent conditioning and making homemade pizzas in the wood fire oven my hosts have in their back yard.
On Sunday I was taken to Bedford to referee Bedford rugby club U15s vs Rutheford U15s. It was a fun match to referee, despite the old school no lifting/supporting at the lineout. The difference in play style is very different at the U15 level than at the high school level. They play a much wider game, with the ball being spun to gain space and use their athleticism to gain ground. Bedford was clearly the better side on this day. Bedford scored three times in the first half and twice in the second. Rutheford was only able to score once within the 60 minute match. Unfortunately we had a brief stoppage for a suspected broken collar bone. Twas but a scratch!
Monday we traveled to back to Huntingdon to partake in the East Midlands referee meeting. Their meetings a structured very similarly to ours, covering similar topics. Many good laughs were had while covering the new lineout vs maul management. Tuesday I traveled down to London to visit the Museum of Natural History and British Museum. After spending a few hours getting lost within the wonders that the English managed to accumulate, I went and had drinks with a friend in Soho before hopping back on the train back up to Leighton Buzzard.
Wednesday I traveled back up to Northampton for a match between Northampton University vs Banbury. Unfortunately this match ended before it got started. Within the first twenty minutes of this wet and cold match we have a major injury. A player broke his leg, while it wasn’t a compound fracture, it was close. The most surprising thing was when we called 999 they said they would not send out an ambulance because it wasn’t an emergency. Talk about carry on! I sent both teams off to their respective locker rooms because we had reached 15 minutes of waiting. We then called the non-emergency line, 111, and they sent out a paramedic, who as soon as she saw the injury said, “Yup we need an ambulance.” By this point it was getting too dark to finish the match, and the game had to be abandoned. It was quite a shame because it was shaping up to be a well contested match in the mud.
After this match I said adieu to my Leighton Buzzard hosts David and Annie. I was whisked away my new home in the north, a lovely town called Stamford. Now that’s Stamford with an M not an N, as my host Andy put it. That night we had the pleasure of going to Cambridge and watching them play Crawshay, a traveling side from South Wales. Despite having Jamie Roberts, the 77 capped Wales center, the Cambridge team only managed to pull ahead of Crawshay in the closing minutes of the second half. Before that, Cambridge, was down 13 – 19. Managing to successfully kick the go ahead conversion, Cambridge went up 20 – 19, and that is how the match ended. They will have to play at a level not displayed that night if they wish to beat Oxford in the Varsity match coming up.
Thursday we spent a few hours in Cambridge seeing the colleges and some of the sights. After spending a lazy hour on the English version of a gondola, ‘punts’ they called them, I headed off to another match. Thursday’s fixture was at Bedford School when they played Harrow school. The Harry Potter-esque grounds were quite a sight to see, especially with seven matches going on at the same time. The match was a fast paced match with everyone thinking they are the next Pocock, McCaw, or Hooper. This nail biter went down to the wire with Bedford eking out the win with a score of 17 to Harrow’s 10. I learned a lot about my own chatter during this match. It turns out I shut down my talking much sooner than ten minutes into the match. I will have to address and work on being vocal for longer.
Friday we woke up too early, but the destination was right proper. Arriving at the Hook Norton Brewery right and early to get our day started. The brewery is quite different to the ones I’ve visited in the states. It was the equivalent of a craftsman home, but a brewery. They still used a steam engine to power the brewery, sometimes. It was surprising to learn that they use the same yeast strain for all their beers. After our tour we got a healthy helping of our choice of their fare. They had a much larger variety of beer than I expected, everything from a dark stout to an American style IPA. They had this amazing team of horses which they would deliver kegs fresh to their doorstep. My phone ate the pictures of this part of my trip L
After getting good and full on delicious beer at the brewery we traveled onto Blenheim Palace. This place is a legit palace. Being the birthplace of Sir Winston Churchill didn’t hurt either. This estate looks like it could have housed the Queen and I would have believed them, it was that grand.
Saturday I traveled to Dunstable to referee their third team. However, when I arrived, there was no team to be found. I ended up running touch for their first team match versus the undefeated Oundle. Despite Dunstable being a mid-tier team they put a very good showing against the top of the table. Oundle started off very sluggish only managing one of everything: a try, conversion, and a penalty kick. On the other hand Dunstable started off with a bang! They put up three tries, two converted, in the first half giving them a 19 – 10 lead at the half. The second half started with Oundle waking up, scoring a converted try to bring their deficit to 2 points. After a pair of penalty kicks by both sides we were left with Dunstable 22 and Oundle 20 with twenty minutes left. With points coming at a premium Dunstable kicked another penalty kick to go up by 5. Oundle could see their undefeated season begin to slip away. But they would not go away lightly. With 8 minutes left in the match Oundle was able to force a try into the corner to tie up the match. This invigorated their exhausted team. Pressure mounted. Finally, with only a few minutes left Dunstable fell. Oundle managed to score the go ahead try to win them the match. It was a great match to be a part of. Dunstable 25 – Oundle 30.
Saturday ended with a few pints around Stamford capped off with a fiery Indian curry to stew overnight in my belly.
Sunday, feeling the pains of my questionable late night culinary dinner choices, got into a car and struggled to make it to the airport.
I want to thank Paul Bretz and the rest of the board for allowing me the opportunity to go on such a wonderful adventure!
Disciplinary Action Reporting – Process for reporting incidents
The various competitions all have their own disciplinary chairs and this will make it difficult to centralize the communication and data. To help Scott Wood has developed a form that will centralize the process, regardless of the competition. The link to the discipline form is https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1mmUNg11uVOSkIsUtHifSqQzalhWbwohk_J6AmPyrucQ/viewform
- Copy the link and have it available on your smartphone. If you have an Iphone add the link to your home screen.
- When needed fill it out and click submit. The discipline chair of the competition you refereed will receive a notification about the incident.
- He/she may contact you latter for more details.
On To The Game Reports!
Cal Maritime 21 – Alumni 37
Referee: Bretz, Paul
Enjoyable match to be part of. All parties agreed that we would start and restart the match with 15 on 15. Everyone agreed. How is it then that at one point and time Alumni had 19 players on the field?
Nevertheless played in good spirits.
CSU Monterey Bay WR 22 – UC Santa Cruz Women 15
Referee: Freitas, Larry
The game had an early start because UCSC had to get back to campus to study for finals. I arrived at the pitch at the former Fort Ord to find both teams warming up, and indeed they needed to with my car’s thermometer registering 48F and the skies partly cloudy. The screen on the fence to the east had been taken down since last I officiated a match there, and with clear skies one could see the Gabilan Range off the to east, offering a great view. The kickoff was at 10:05, and about five minutes later UCSC scored what was to be the first of three unconverted tries in the half. This is a rebuild year for UCSC, and they had brought nearly thirty players, so the side taking the pitch for the first half was the more experienced of the two, and it showed as they were able to answer a Monterey Bay try with another two, and a few players who got little time to play last year were getting a chance to show what they could do. The Otter try was fashioned after a long run by their full back from half way, only to be tackled short of the line and knocking on. The subsequent scrum five found the Banana Slug scrum half hounded enough by her opposite number to make a bad pass to the right wing in goal, who then fly-hacked the ball back toward where the base of the scrum was. Monterey’s scrum half, Sabrina Bacaungan, all of 5’1” tall I would say, fell on the ball about a meter short of the line, and as I shouted at her to release the ball, she passed it off to a teammate who then dove into the in goal for their first try of the match, making the score 5-5 temporarily. Things were starting to warm up, literally and figuratively.
In the second half UCSC had replaced a number of players with first year players, and there was much scruffy play, as both teams were showing that some weren’t completely aware of the laws of the game. The play did flow enough in that I tried to play as much advantage as possible to the non-offending side. CSUMB were able to score three tries in the half and take the lead and hold it in the last sixteen minutes of play. The first try was from a scrum five when Bacaungan scooped a ball up at her number 8’s feet and darted past defenders to touchdown. The tying score was also CSUMB’s Bacaungan’s, anticipating and intercepting a pass on Monterey’s own ten meter line after UCSC won ruck ball, and outpacing a few UCSC players to score near the posts. I didn’t think she’d make it as I chased play, but a quick change of direction by glancing back paid off, shaking off the last would-be tackler to cross the line. She was soon substituted with another player, getting an ovation from supporters. Another try some ten minutes later also came from some nifty running by CSUMB’s back division. That try was right under the posts, and the conversion was good to give them a seven point lead. The students on the touchlines, some of whom were of the men’s team waiting to train post game, and Monterey’s subs, couldn’t have been more excited, when those last two tries were scored, and when I whistled for no side. This was CSUMB Women’s first win after the team was resurrected last year. Their coach, Alena Porte, should be proud. Kevin Miske, UCSC’s coach, is also hopeful that his new players are going to improve and have a good year. Regarding Sabrina Bacaungan, I only can say that for a player new to the game she has some instincts to run with the ball in hand that can’t be coached or learned. She was definitely “Woman of the Match.”
Sacramento State 84 – UOP 12
Referee: Boyer, Rich
Sac St. came out strong, scoring a try within the first three minutes. UOP hit back quickly to level the score. But from then on it was pretty much one way traffic. Sac St. make multiple line breaks, backs being the beneficiaries of strong running exhibited by #5. Nick Weeder at ten managed the backs well and made many searing line breaks, scoring at least three tries. Isaiah at outside center filled in nicely and had a brace of tries. Credit to UOP, they never gave up or backed down. Led by captain Justin, their halfback, UOP made numerous breaks but failed to capitalize each time. Justin took quick tap penalties every time he could, getting Sac St. on the back foot. Outside center Jermaine tried to put the team on his back with very active defense and great running. But Sac St. were too dominant and won going away.
Sacramento State B 12 – Sierra College 88
Referee: Richmond, Jeff
I’m sure tackling drills will be on the agenda for the next Hornet practice. Thanks to Mark Godfrey for helping out at AR.
Solano 11 – Humboldt State 43
Referee: Bernstein, Bruce
Nice field & facilities like stadium seating at Solano CC in Fairfield. Both teams played a tight 1st half but Humboldt’s defense did not let up while Solano kicked a few balls to Humboldt’s strength –their back 3 who scored all tries except a real nice defensive steal & tap kick ahead by their scrumhalf who pounced on the ball before it left the barely 5 meter try zone. Humboldt’s scrum & lineouts were solid which gave them plenty of possession. Both teams should only play better since this was their 1st league match. Halftime score 26-8.
South Bay Tournament
Referee: Makino, Ren
Was able to referee two matches that day. Had a great time meeting new referees as well as some players that I knew playing for Google. First game was Sacramento Capitals (88) – Silicon Valley (7). It was my first Men’s Club game and my first game that I refereed where one team dominated the other. Had one scrum during the match. The Sacramento Capitals’ 10 was a really nice guy. Silicon Valley was able to go scoreless with a lucky loose ball. I think the try scorer was new to the game so I was happy for him. Received some great feedback about positioning after the match. Second game was SJSU (19) – UCSB Frosh/Soph (0). It was my first men’s college match. This was a rookie match but there were some experienced players playing as well. Had a lot more work to do than the first game. Was helped a lot by the assistant referees. Also learned about how to slow down the game after penalties.
South Bay Tournament 0
Referee: Pohlman, John
San Jose Seahawks hosted the South Bay Tournament this past Saturday at the Morgan Hill Sports Complex. Six teams were broken into two pools. Silicon Valley lost to the Slugs from UC Santa Cruz in the opener. Sacramento Capitals then beat an undermanned Silicon Valley. Sacramento won their pool with a win over UC Santa Cruz.
Google won the other bracket beating the host Seahawks and barely getting by San Jose State.
Sacramento won the tournament finishing off an overmatched but determined Google side.
Good run was had by all.
St. Mary’s College 67 – Santa Rosa 7
Referee: Akroyd, Phil
Rosa came into the fixture with a couple of weeks of pre-season training, SMC had a couple of games under their belts and started their pre-season conditioning in September. It was only going one way.
The kick-off from SMC traveled about 8 meters in the air and dropped to the ground, then it rolled over the 10m line. Rosa hesitated, SMC picked it up on the bounce and ran in for the first try after about 10 seconds. And so it continued.
It could have been more if the field was drier but it was cutting up pretty well in the third game of the day.
St. Mary’s College C 58 – Santa Clara B 7
Referee: Lew, Tim
On a soggy field at St Marys college, the SMC Cs took on Santa Clara B side to start the day. Each team traded tries to begin the game but it was St Mary’s the rest of the way. Santa Clara’s defensive first tackles were weak which allows SMC to use their ball skills. The deep three for SMC made most of the breaks. Also of note- there was 25+ scrums as a result of the wet ball.
Cancer Awareness Tournament
Referee: Boyer, Rich
I managed to draw two Blackhawk matches in the finely run Blackhawk rugby tournament in Sacramento. Florin Reservoir Park has had some renovations and is in the best shape ever. First match saw Blackhawks II v. Life II. It was a physical match with Life playing a bit more cohesively. The Blackhawks hung tight, were solid in defense and had some really strong runs from Cali, but in the end were betrayed by errors. Life II hooker was noticeable in the loose and had some good runs and poaches. Life broke off a few long range tries and ended up victorious, 26-7.
The second match pitted Blackhawks v. Santa Rosa. The Blackhawks appeared to have the match in hand early as a result of strong forward play, but late intercept and penalty tries along with poor decisions resulted in a 26-14 win for Santa Rosa. Santa Rosa’s hooker played very well and made some well timed poaches while Blackhawks #5 was very strong with ball in hand.
D3 Pre-Season KOT
Referee: Wilson, Giles
Napa had plenty of bodies and 3 marked fields; the goal posts were the last things to go up and if the teams would have arrived a little earlier then the 9am start could have worked. As it was the games went off a few minutes late, apart from that things ran very well.
I started with Marin vs South Valley – most players were getting their first game of the new season and this showed in the skills. In other areas some player were in mid-season form for “advising” the referee.
Next up Google and Aptos; both bringing some new players (more for Aptos than Google). Google made better use of space and Aptos paid the price but kept working and scored a couple of their own.
By the afternoon SF Fog and Google had lost some players to injury and elected a 7s game. Again google used space better.
In my final game Reno were worried about snow on Hwy 80 and Modesto had lost their coach to a significant injury – but they came for 3 games so why not 10s?
D3 Pre-Season KOT
Referee: Bernstein, Bruce
Did 3 matches including the highlight match of my day Shasta barely squeaking by Napa’s 2nd side 19-17 with their kicker hitting two conversions & Napa’s only one.
Real good pre-season tourny for all who took part including my buddy Joe Silva who bought 5 raffle tickets & hit on 2 of them including the 1st one resulting in a tour of Buena Vista Winery; & got a bottle of good red wine form Napa.
They used a new field right by the toilets & picnic tables which was a better location then what they did last year for their late season tourny and their regular matches.
D3 Pre-Season KOT
Referee: Pohlman, John
Napa Valley hosted a preseason kick off tournament this past weekend. I refereed four games which were 20 minutes halves. Beautiful day in Napa. Division three rugby is alive and well. Lots of good competitive games. Lots of good sportsmanship. Thanks to Pete Smith for organizing this tournament. These gathering bring back the tournaments from years ago. Fun competition, social activities with beers and food after. After all Saturday’s a rugby day.
Diablo Gaels 25 – Chico 12
Referee: MacDonald, Neil
The Gaels met the Mighty Oaks in a pre-season match at Cal Maritime, set up as 4×20 minute playing periods. The Gaels opening the scoring early, with their fly half going over in the corner. Rugby wasn’t often able to break out among the knock-ons, the most memorable of which occurred when a Chico player, having successfully crossed into the Gaels’ in-goal, heeded his team mates’ exhortations to take the ball in to the posts, only to drop it when he attempted to ground it. The Gales went over in the 33rd minute, under penalty advantage from Chico fringing, to take it to 10-0. Chico’s #4 went on a bullocking 70m run through and around defenders, and the kick went over to pull it back to 10-7. Rugby broke out in earnest from this point on, with direct running from Chico’s 9 and captain Kendo at 10, combining with much more attentive support running than in the first half. The Gaels on the other hand looked dangerous every time they put width on the ball and the pace of their back line will do more damage with a few fewer knock-ons as their season continues. Diablo went 15-7 up, only for Chico to score almost immediately from a wonderful series of offloads in contact to bring it back to 15-12. The last eight minutes were telling, with the Gaels running in two more scores to put the game away.
Sacramento Amazons 10 – Life West Gladiatrix 51
Referee: Fenaroli, Steven
It was very helpful having Paul available for feedback and comments
EDITOR’S NOTE: Even more helpful would be a description of the game
San Jose State 17 – San Jose Seahawks 12
Referee: Hinkin, James
A cold mid December day pitted the San Jose Seahawks against San Jose St in a friendly. The Seahawks put out a mixture of rookies and vets and the Spartans were not impressed, running out to a 5-0 in the first 20 minute period. A game characterized by penalties that failed to find touch actually created more open play as the counters were on. The second half saw parity restored as the older, wiser Seahawks were able to match the young, fresh Spartans at 2 tries (1 conversion) apiece. A good match for both sides as they both got a run out before finals/holidays and the Seahawks were able to talk to possible recruits for their future campaigns.
San Jose State B 0 – Santa Rosa JC 12
Referee: Hinkin, James
A three legged event at San Jose St started off with Santa Rosa JC taking on the Seahawks B siders. The youngsters proved too much for the rookie club men to handle, however as they ran out to a 12-0 lead on 2 tries (1 conversion). On a day most notable for kickers missing touch at penalties, the match had far too many stoppages to really flow. Knock ons, free kicks and penalties were a curse that only evaporated for short periods of running, flowing rugby. The second 20 minute period was more balanced as the Seahawk rookies found their legs but neither side could claim any points.
This Week’s Photo
As this is the final HP of the year, I thought I would end with a joke. Remember this the next time a member of the flock gives you two fingers.
For the Senate
Pelicus Pedem Referre